Scottish Catholic bishops headed up by Archbishop Mario Conti have launched an astonishing full-frontal attack on Labour in the run up to the forthcoming assembly elections.
A letter sent round to congregations this weekend accuses the government of “a stealthy and unjust attack on the freedom of religion itself and on the rights of conscience” over issues such as gay adoptions – where the Prime Minister and cabinet refused to bow to pressure to allow the church to discriminate though its agencies.
The bishops add: “Last year, in the face of widespread opposition, the Scottish Parliament extended the right to adopt to unmarried and same sex couples. These dubious innovations are detrimental not just to the good of the Catholic community but to the common good of humanity as a whole. They deserve to be challenged at the ballot box.”
The Scottish election is widely believed to be on a knife-edge, with the nationalists (SNP) hoping for a real breakthrough. Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond has been courting the Catholic vote with a favourable stance to faith schools.
The bishops’ pastoral letter was read out at all Masses in Scotland’s 500 Catholic parishes. The Catholic church leaders point to a “conflict of values in society” which they claim has led to “legislation and regulations which are seriously at odds with the insights and values of our Christian faith and of other faiths”.
They go on to raise concerns about; “abortion, embryo experimentation, easy divorce and civil partnerships” and the need to constantly “counter criticism of the very existence of Catholic schools”.
A different note was struck this weekend by Tom Horwood, who worked for the Catholic bishops of England and Wales for six years, and holds qualifications in theology, history and management.
Writing in The Guardian newspaper, Mr Horwood, author of The Future of the Catholic Church in Britain, said that religious leaders should be hopeful, not defensive, in public debate.
Full story at Ekklesia.